Date Published: 1 December 2008

Baby P and the safeguarding of children in Haringey - Healthcare Commission comment

The Healthcare Commission today (Monday) commented on the health-related findings of the joint review at Haringey, which it carried out with Ofsted and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The review assessed the Borough's current arrangements for safeguarding children and young people following the tragic death of a 17-month-old baby boy, known as Baby P.

Anna Walker, the Commission's Chief Executive, said:

"This is without question one of the saddest and most shocking cases on which we have ever been asked to report. The lessons must be fully understood and fully acted upon, both in Haringey and more widely including by the NHS.

The joint area review clearly identifies systemic failings in Haringey. From a healthcare perspective, we were particularly concerned about the inadequacy of systems necessary to enable agencies to work together effectively on behalf of children.

It is critical to have good communication, between healthcare professionals and between organisations working in partnership on safeguarding, as well as strong awareness of child protection procedures. These lessons need to be learnt across the NHS."

In response to the joint area review, Health Secretary Alan Johnson today asked the Healthcare Commission to report on the role of the four NHS trusts involved in events leading up to the death of Baby P.

He has also asked the Commission to conduct a review to ensure that NHS trusts across England are meeting their obligations to safeguard children.

Ms Walker said:

"We will carry out the two reviews requested by the Secretary of State. These reviews must be thorough and fair to all concerned and they will be. The NHS needs a clear analysis of what happened to Baby P. Lessons must be learnt both by the trusts involved and across the NHS. We will continue to work closely with Ofsted and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary on safeguarding issues across Haringey as requested by the government."

The Commission has already reviewed the documentary evidence of the care provided to Baby P, part of its normal procedures in serious cases of this kind.

It will now extend these inquiries - carrying out interviews and visits - to look in further detail at the roles of the NHS organisations involved. This review at the four trusts will particularly focus on:

* communication between healthcare professionals and between agencies
* awareness of healthcare procedures for child protection
* recruitment and training
* levels of staffing.

The Department of Health and the Healthcare Commission have also noted that all four of the NHS trusts were able to declare in the annual review of their performance that they fully complied with national standards relating to safeguarding children.

This is why Mr Johnson has also asked the Commission to examine whether boards of NHS trusts across the country are in fact meeting their responsibilities.

The Commission will visit trusts to ascertain how they ensure that children are safeguarded. It will look at governance, training and staffing, as well as how individual cases are handled. It will also look at how healthcare organisations work in partnership with others to safeguard children.

The four NHS trusts involved in the care of Baby P were North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, Haringey Teaching Primary Care Trust, and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust.

 

Source: The Healthcare Commission (England, UK).

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